Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jesus is no secret......

In a society that seeks quick fixes and the flavor of the month, along with financial abundance, the movie The Secret became a phenomenon in 2006. This led to appearances on Oprah and other popular television programs and media venues for speakers such as James Arthur Ray, whose book Harmonic Wealth rose on the best sellers lists and drew a steady flow of registrants for his expensive spiritual retreats. It was at one of these retreats held in Sedona, Arizona, that dozens fell ill and at least 2 participants died as a result of something that went awry at a sweat lodge ceremony. Article taken from, Philadelphia

In fact, 3 ended up losing their lives.

Last night on Dateline.NBC they were recapping events from this tragedy. They interviewed some of the participants, all of whom are intelligent individuals with successful careers and bright futures. But there was a common thread wound around all of them.They were looking for something they hadn't found yet.

The Angel Valley Retreat Center, where the weekend events took place, is owned by Michael and Amayra Hamilton, who rented it to Ray for a five-day "Spiritual Warrior" retreat that promised to "absolutely change your life."
Participants paid between $9000.00-$10,000.00 for the retreat.

One man emerged from the Sweat lodge halfway through the ceremony because he thought he was having a heart attack, and instead of summoning medical aid, Ray said "It's a good day to die," according to a search warrant affidavit. Source: news

Participants, at least the ones who made it out alive, continue to be haunted by events of that fateful weekend in 2009. It did change their lives, but not for the better. Three lives ended unnecessarily only because they thought they were doing something good. They put their very lives in the hands of the wrong person.

People do it everyday. We've all done it at one time or another.

But there is One who contains within Himself all we will ever need to be fulfilled in this life and that is Jesus. No, I didn't say rich, I said fulfilled.

What makes Him qualified?

He has been here since the beginning. John 1:1
At the appointed time He came to earth, born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14
He lived a sinless life. 1 John 3:5
Voluntarily gave His life for us by going to the cross. 1 Peter 2:24
Rose again on the third day. 1 Corinthians 15:4
Appeared to many eyewitnesses after His resurrection. Acts 13:31
Ascended to the Father, where He intercedes for us today. Romans 8:34
Gives us His Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. John 16:7
At the appointed time He will come back. Hebrews 10:37

James Arthur Ray is charged with 3 counts of manslaughter and faces a minimum of three years in prison and a maximum of 12 for each manslaughter charge.

I pray for those today who continue to be deceived by James Arthur Ray and others like him.......He continues to lecture on his website.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Answers from the Psalms

You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah. Psalm 81:7

Counting hope today in expectation of the answers......"In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation!" Psalm 5:3 We can pray in expectation because we know He is faithful. I love the idea of David laying his requests before God in the morning.....He wasn't afraid to be open and transparent before God....and vulnerable. He knew that God would answer because of all the times He had answered in the past. He also knew that true faith means coming before the Lord with full assurance that God had already worked it out!

David made some big mistakes just like we all have, but he still knew that he was God's child. He knew that his help truly came from the Lord and no one else. Maybe you had a parent you could never count on. You always had hope that at least one time they would come through for you, but they never did. One time give a word of encouragement. One time, show up for the game. One time, say they loved you, were pulling for you, were on your side. You gave up, on them, on yourself....feeling you must not be worth it.

But take heart, because our Heavenly Father is not like that. He is in the bleachers cheering you on. He always has been. He says, you are mine and you are worthy! We need to look no further than Calvary to remind ourselves that God thinks we are indeed worth it.

"For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name." Psalm 61:5 #361

"They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed." Psalm 22:5 #362

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1

#364 flowers in summer, #365 laughter when all else fails, #366 answers, expected and unexpected, #367 the gift of health, #368 time off work, #369 air-conditioning when it's 112 in the shade, #370 parents that were there......

holy experience

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My First Thought

Excerpt from A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie

Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of You, let my first impulse be to worship You, let my first speech be Your name, let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer.

For Your perfect wisdom and perfect goodness,
For the love with which You love mankind
For the love with which You love me
For the great and mysterious opportunity of my life
For the indwelling of Your Spirit in my heart
For the sevenfold gifts of Your Spirit
I praise and worship You, O Lord.

Yet let me not, when this morning prayer is said, think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of You. Rather from these moments of quietness let light go forth, and joy, and power, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day;

Keeping me chaste in thought
Temperate and truthful in speech
Keeping me faithful and diligent in my work
Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself
Keeping me honorable and generous in my dealings with others
Keeping me loyal to every hallowed memory of the past
Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of Yours,
Through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One Thing.....

This was on the Daily Devotional yesterday and I had to share it. In very few words he puts everything in perspective. Nothing to add here.....
Making the Right Choice
By Max Lucado

“Everyone must die once and be judged.” Hebrews 9:27

Eternity is to be taken seriously. A judgement is coming.

Our task on earth is singular—to choose our eternal home. You can afford many wrong choices in life. You can choose the wrong career and survive, the wrong city and survive, the wrong house and survive. You can even choose the wrong mate and survive. But there is one choice that must be made correctly and that is your eternal destiny.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bird funerals

Photo from Wikipedia

I found a dead baby bird as I left work last night. I hate finding those. I always want to blame the careless mother. But that's not quite fair, after all maybe she had nothing to do with it. It was lying in the middle of the sidewalk, right on the path. I didn't want anyone to step on it so I took a napkin out of my purse and layed it under a tree nearby out of sight. I did it because all life is sacred, even a little baby bird.

My Grandmother once gave my parakeet Peppy a funeral. We left it in her care when we went on vacation and it died. She was very upset, so upset that she saved it for me! She lovingly rolled it up in a papertowel and laid it in a green plastic strawberry basket. Maybe I get my bird obsession from her.

But God cares about them too, after all....."Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God." Luke 12:6

All of life is sacred. I was thinking about this on the way to work this morning. Why is it that so many professionals recommend counseling before marriage (a very good idea) but not require it before bringing another eternal soul into this world?

Just wondering.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A solitary place.....

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35

We know this place....we have seen it in our dreams, in our minds. That solitary place of peace that we long for. We think, if I can just get there.... then I will be okay. It is not as far away as you might think, that place. Sometimes it comes when you least expect it, a sudden feeling that all is right, at least in your world. You want to hold it close because you know it won't last, but it is enough for now. You look up and say a prayer of thanks because you know where it came from. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Some people spend a fortune going to exotic places seeking that place of peace and never find it. Real peace can only be found in Him. What a blessing we don't have to go that far......We can find it where the Spirit resides. In the quiet soft nest of our very own soul, where He has carved out His home. He knew we would need that. So much so that He wanted us to be able to carry Him wherever we go.

So go find a quiet place today. You will find that Someone's footsteps have been there before yours, seeking peace. He has left it for you to find.

"And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone....." Matthew 14:23

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Praying the Scripture

Papyrus scroll of Isiah 33,1-24
"But in coming to the Lord by means of "praying the Scripture," you do not read quickly; you read very slowly. You do not move from one passage to another, not until you have sensed the very heart of what you have read. You may then want to take that portion of Scripture that has touched you and turn it into prayer." Madame Guyon (1648-1717) From, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ

I am a fast reader, and in a way that's good because I know I have to forcibly slow myself down in order to get what God wants me to get from reading His Word. It helps greatly to start with prayer, prayer for God to open my heart and mind to what I may have missed before. Ever missed something totally in a verse that you know you have read many times before? It happened to me this morning.

It was in the portion of Scripture where Mary pours the expensive perfume on Jesus' feet and then Judas complains that it was a waste of money and they should have sold it and given the money to the poor. Yeah, right. He was skimming from the till, that's why he was concerned! But as I read the whole Chapter, I thought how the whole scene was so surreal. Here was Jesus at the home of Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead not too long before.

And then I read what I had missed all the other times......"Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him." John 12:9,10

I don't know about you but I can't imagine what Lazarus was thinking. No doubt he was still in a state of incredulity at being alive again after hopping out of a dark tomb bound hand and foot. Now here he was enjoying fellowship and a good dinner with friends only to have his very life threatened. They wanted to kill what Jesus had brought to life!

I thought of how sometimes I want to bring to life what Jesus wants to kill in my life....worry, fear, stress, anxiety or maybe mistakes that I have made I want to remind Him of.

What in your life are you trying to resurrect today that Jesus has already taken to the Cross? He has already forgotten it!....having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Right Path....

Image from The Passion of the Christ

Grateful today for the Path, and that I never have to walk it alone.
Whatever I do, and however this world may distract me,
My path ends here, and always here at Your precious feet.
The ones that went to the cross for me.
You are mighty to save and you have led me out of darkness into Your marvelous light and I am eternally grateful today....

My path starts and ends here, always here.
In the dust, at the hem of Your Holy garment, at Your feet.
My steps may be halting, hesitant at times, but..."though I stumble, I will not fall, for the LORD upholds me with His hand." Psalm 37:28

You said......
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

Yes I am grateful for the path today, Your path that leads to life.

Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Counting blessings to one thousand and beyond.....#353 His mercies which are new every morning...#354 The depth of His unsurpassing love for us.....#355 Friends who gather and pray with us....#356 Words that breathe life into our souls.....#357 That He hears my voice....#358 That He is interceding for me.....#359 His Words that come alive....#360 Moments of peace when I least expect it.....

holy experience

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Love

Photo by Google images
How blessed I am to have felt the touch of a loving father's hands growing up. They were working hands, strong. Made that way by many hours of county road work, but always soft and gentle with me. I can still remember the way he would tuck covers in around me, or lift me high above his shoulders and then act like he was falling. I was safe in the security of his love and protection and I knew he would always be there just when I needed him.

But others have much different memories of fathers, ones you would just as soon forget. Or maybe you have no memory at all, just a gaping hole where he should have been. Knowing that it was all on you, no father there to set things right or be your safety net.

For all of you I bring you the Father's love today......for we have a loving father who steps in to be your Dad....."A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5

Maybe you never felt like you were wanted, but know this today, Your Father in Heaven did want you. He wanted you because you are here, breathing life right now. He is longing to wrap His loving arms around you and fill all those empty places in your soul where a Dad should have been.

He can bind up every wound, heal every hurtful memory. He can be all you never had right now.

I pray that Father's Day be something different this year, a time for embracing the Father's love, letting go of what could have been, and letting God fill you with everything He longs to give you.

2 Corinthians 6:18 "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Believing is not seeing

"I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world."
Helen Keller

She found the secret of belief. We have a hard time grasping what we can't see. She couldn't see at all but felt Him all around her. I guess that's why I feel His presence easier in the quiet hush of a forest or sitting beside the ocean.....

For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lo, I am with you always...

This morning right before I awoke I dreamed I was staring at the sky much like the one above, and as I was gazing at it, a very large hand came reaching down out of the clouds. It was huge, a God-sized hand, the biggest thing I have ever seen in the sky. I gasped and turned around, hoping someone else was seeing it too. But nobody did.

I think sometimes God sends us little messages to let us know that He is with us. He knows we are weak, get tired, lose hope, need our spirits lifted. I know it lifted mine this morning. I don't think there was any deep message in it, except that God was saying, "I am here." Maybe this message of hope is for you today.

"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." Psalm 34:7 Even Jesus needed angels to comfort Him in the garden before He went to the cross. If He needed their comfort, what makes us think they don't tend to us as well? I think if we could really see the spiritual activity all around us, it would greatly change how we live from day to day.

Jesus knew of it, and the demons who greeted Him knew of it too, but most of the time we are woefully ignorant. And sometimes, the here and now is painful, blinding us to it even further. All we can see is the hopelessness of our circumstances. Sometimes though He breaks through and reaches us where we are.

I had just lost my husband and I was walking around in a black vacuum. The grand-piano sized grief had settled on my chest and I carried it everywhere. One day I was checking out at the grocery store. As the checker handed me my change and looked at me, I felt some undescribable. It was as if Jody himself was looking out through his eyes saying, "Everything's gonna be fine." I have always thought it was an angel. "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14
All these years later, the memory has not dimmed. I was shaken by the encounter and rocked by emotion. I fled the store. But at the same time it gave me hope. He was right of course, everything was fine eventually. Everything will be fine for you as well. Whatever it is you're facing, He is with you!

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. Psalm 37:23,24

Keep looking to the sky!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Your Redemption Song

It is the most beautiful song of all, and it's yours! God's melody written just for you, it echoes throughout the halls of time and space and it will never stop, only increase as new melodies are woven into the Master Song. It is the most beautiful story, the most beautiful gift you can gift to someone else.....Your Redemption Song. All over this world new songs are being written and sung, can you hear them? God does. It is written into the very fabric of creation...... Heads bowed in church, along the side of a dusty road, beside a quiet lake, hands raised, tears flow. New births day by day, minute by minute. Pause and listen.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." Romans 8:18-21

Check out Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's "Favorite Song of All" here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fire in the Desert

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1"

The desert is merciless. The sun cracks the dirt into hard baked clay, and in the winter when the sun goes down, the temperature drops alarmingly fast. Only the strongest survive. But the devil didn't count on the Holy Spirit being there with Jesus for those forty days. He couldn't lose! God's fire was with Him.

"For the first 30 years of His life, Jesus led a good "Christian" life, he went to church and made furniture, then the Holy Spirit came." Pastor Gary Kinnaman, speaking at City of Grace church this past weekend. Yes, then the Holy Spirit came and all hell broke loose. Satan was ticked! "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through the whole countryside." Luke 4:14 The first time He got up to preach in His hometown, he made the crowd furious and they tried to throw Him off a cliff. Luke 4:28-29

No doubt about it, the Holy Spirit may get you in trouble. Look what happened to the disciples after the day of Pentecost! They went from hiding out behind locked doors to preaching on the street corners, facing off demons, and healing the sick!

Has the Holy Spirit ever led you to do something you never thought you could do? Even something that seemed to make no sense at the time? Called you out of your safe place? He will do that. Sometimes I would like God to be very predictable and manageable. I would like Him to just let me be comfortable. I love safety and comfort. But I need to remember those times when I did let go and say, "Yes, I will do that." And I do remember, He never left my side.

Lord, help me to be open to what you might ask me to do. Give me the strength to say yes and not cave in to fear. For I know You will never leave me......Has the Holy Spirit led you into the desert? If so and you need prayer, please leave a comment and I will be happy to pray for you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blogging Benefits......

There are two ways to live; one as though nothing is a miracle. The other as if everything is. Albert Einstein

Since the day I passed my one year milestone on blogging, I have been meditating on what this whole experience has meant to me, and done for me. I have learned some things about myself. This whole process has taken me by surprise at times, by how much joy it has given me, what a blessing it has been. I get a comment and my heart soars because I know someone understands, someone relates, someone is encouraged. That makes it all worth it. Then there are times of discouragement when I feel my words are falling flat, going nowhere. Why does that affect me so? Should it? I ask myself a zillion questions. I get caught in a self destructive cycle that spins and goes nowhere.

I am awed by so many brilliant, creative talented writers out there, "Real writers," I call them. I think how much better their words sound than my own. But then God whispers: your words matter too. All of our words are precious to Him. Like your childs first words, perfect no matter how they sound. And when we join our words together, we become one unified voice in praise to Him. All different, all beautiful.

So I draw back, I dip into the Wellspring of His Word, and I am refreshed, inspired, bowled over by God's love for me. I remember why I do this, I have to share Him.

It is humbling, this process. And that is good for me because it leads me back to Him, back to where I started. Back to knowing that without Him I can do nothing. He is my strength, my song, my hope, and His love never fails. He gathers me in His arms and sings over me with joy and I am renewed again.

So I am celebrating the blessings of blogging today, and want you to know I pray for everyone following this blog, and everyone who may come across it another way. I continue the counting of the gifts today.....#341 He is my shield, #342 my hiding place, #343 my strong tower, #344 my hope, #345 keeper of my dreams, #346 collector of my tears, #347 my strength, #348 my deliverer, #349 my desire, #350 my inheritance, #351 my salvation, #352 my inspiration.

holy experience

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some days......

This was my day yesterday....Mary Engelbreit captures it perfectly with this image!

I left a five dollar bill on the lunch counter after dropping the snack I bought.....luckily someone turned it in to the cashier. Then after work I started to water the roses and forgot the hose was running. For an hour. Someone came to the door and said, "Your neighbor must have left the water running because it is flooded all the way to the clubhouse." I ran out, ready to check the neighbor's hose and remembered it was mine. I hung around in back pretending to shut off their water, and I noticed the car wasn't leaving. As I sheepishly came around front she said, "Oh, was it YOURS???" I wanted to tell her to go home and mind her own business, but I smiled and thanked her. It was just that kind of day!

This is what I needed to tell myself this morning on the way to work!

I was grousing about things, little things....which is kind of unusual for me because I usually feel like this, for the most part.

Then I thought about this little boy that is still missing in Oregon, and his poor parents, the Dad is an Intel employee like me.....all of a sudden my little complaints vanished into vapor....I prayed for them the rest of the way to work. I can't begin to imagine the agony of what they're going through. Our world is going on, but theirs has stopped.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I was thinking....

I was thinking about how God must be very hurt, very saddened by the things going on in the world right now. The world was perfect the way He created it, perfectly in balance, perfect in order. I was thinking it must be all but impossible for Him to stay His hand, prevent the cruelty He sees, the whole earth seems to be in travail. How can He restrain Himself? The answer He whispered to my heart......Mercy, child. It is by my great mercy only that my Hand is stayed.

Yes, Lord.

He is not immovable, immpervious as a stone. He has already done all that He can to redeem mankind by plunging Himself right onto the center stage of our drama.....right in the middle of all the much and mire. So that we might live....

Now we all wait.....and He waits too. "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

He is not willing that any should perish......He is giving us time.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Rev. 21:4
He is waiting for that day even more than we are....Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Red Swing

My Mom does not believe in hiding in the backyard. She does not like closed, shrouded windows and shades drawn tight. She once visited me in New Mexico and she almost ran down the street chasing strangers she was so desperate for someone to talk to. It was a "nice" neighborhood but nobody ever went out in the front except for the little girl who brought her guinea pigs out. It really was almost comical, now that I look back on it. It could have been set to music.....everyone came home, garage-doors came up, swallowing entombed drivers and sucking them into the abyss, never to be seen again. "How does anyone expect to get to know each other when they're all hiding in their backyards?" She has a point.

Back home, life is lived out in the front. There is a picnic table between their house and the neighbors, and it is used by about four families nearby. Mom's new neighbor sometimes brings homemade scones out in the morning to share. Bible studies have been held on it; and lots of playdough has been pounded into it with little fists, it is also a jumping launch for the kids.

Mom decided she wanted a deck out in front, plunked right on the lawn so she could sit out there. She has a hard time sitting on the uneven ground due to humongous tree roots. So it was built. Then she saw it......The Red Swing. She has been painting everything red for the past few years or so. Her latest acquisition before the swing was the Red Sink which she is very proud of.

My Mom mentioned it to Yvonne, her grocery checker. Now her friend. One day my Mom started talking to her at the store and a spark was ignited, something shared. Something that drew them close as only the Holy Spirit can. She told Yvonne about her new deck and the swing she wanted. Well, it was close to Mother's Day, and Dad was doomed from the start. Yvonne came by after work with a bouquet of red flowers and made him promise to get her that red swing.

Now everyone uses it. The other night my Mom was getting ready for bed and she heard the neighbor girl singing softly....out in the swing. Another night, some other neighbors were walking, whispering, with another child. Pretty soon, they were quietly swinging as well.

It is a real neighborhood, not without its squabbles, disagreements or differences. But something profound takes place there called life. Community. Shared dreams, heartaches and hopes. When I recently went back, we had a party for my brother's Birthday. Invitations were sent word of mouth, the best kind. People came bringing food, wine and smiles.

Mom made sure she had her tunes, Big Band blasting forth from the top of the clothesdryer. The firepit was lit....hands were held in a circle of prayer. Grace was there in that gathering of neighbors, and a feeling that we were not just neighbors and friends, but family.

With a red swing out front......

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One year ago......

One year ago today I took a leap of faith and started this blog having no clue how to do it! What a blessing it has been to get to know some of you, my readers. I can't tell you how much it has meant to have all of your support and encouragement. I look forward to another year with anticipation and prayerful expectation for what God will do in and though us all!

A special thank you to Elaine for your encouragement and belief that I could do this, and Abel who also kept after me at work, "Have you started your blog yet?"

I give God all the glory!

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Love and blessings, Lori

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

God's furious love.....

Are you struggling to forgive yourself today? Maybe for something you did in the past? Some wrong decision? A turning away from God? Something you have given yourself a life sentence for? Maybe your kids are grown and you see the scars they carry, scars you think were inflicted by you. Maybe you think you've failed God, blaming yourself for a failed marriage. You think your verdict is just, fair. You heard the hollow echo of the metal doors you slammed on yourself. You threw the key far away, out of reach. After all, you messed up, right? Here is what God laid on my heart the other day in prayer: "When you don't forgive yourself you are making yourself into the God you think I am, but I am not that God, I have already forgiven you!"

So many times the guilt we feel is totally false. Useless. Destructive.
If the guilt is real, confess it! He will not only forgive you, He will forget you ever did it!

Our God loves us with a relentless love we can scarcely understand. We are so used to living in a performance based world that we think God is that way too. We even make our churches performance driven! The church should be a safe place. A place we can expose our imperfections, our vulnerabilities, our sickness, a place of reconciliation.

"He (God) is not moody or capricious; He know no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us. He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners." Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

He loves us! Right now where we stand, without us changing one single thing about ourselves. When that love is grasped, really grasped, only then can we begin to live the life He calls us to live. A life that seeks to please Him, obey His commands, not because it scores us any points, but because we want to return the love that He has so mercifully shown us. We won't reach perfection, but it's okay. He will still love us, and there is nowhere His love won't go to reach us.

His love chases us out to the desert wilderness like He followed a distraught Hagar, whispering His great mercy into her desperation. It sends Jonah to the Ninevites, even grows a shelter for him when he gets ticked because the Ninevites repent. His love is Hosea to our unworthy Gomer. Ultimately it went to a lonely hill and there it reaches us. Outside the Calvary.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Col. 2:13-14

Monday, June 7, 2010

No worries....

When we dwell on something from the past or worry about the future, our present is immediately snatched away. Worry about something we can't change is a death sentence for the here and now and it renders us useless to ourselves or anyone else. Whenever I catch myself going down the rabbithole of regret over something that has already happened, or something I think might happen, I am no longer alive to the victory I have in Christ right now, today. In effect, I am putting myself back into a prison that Christ set me free from. The Bible says, "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." By worrying I am bringing life to something that Jesus has put to death. Why do I try to resurrect what God has put to death? As long as I have that mindset, I can't live a life that glorifies Christ, and I am robbed of the peace of Christ. And if I allow fear and worry to rob me of the peace of Christ, I can't give it to anyone else!

Thank you Lord, that I don't have to waste time dwelling on the past, or bogged down by worrying about the future, for You alone hold the future in Your mighty hand. It is a hard lesson to learn, and I am still trying to learn it. Only with You is this even possible. In my head I know my future is secure and so is my present, help the lesson reach my heart. Thank you that I don't have to fear either one of them as I look to You to breathe hope into all my days, for I know that circumstances always change but You never do. Amen

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col. 3:15

Continuing the gratitude counting daily, weekly, monthly....#331 wise friends, #332 curling up with a good book, #333 furry companions who comfort, #334 babies that smile with wonder at the world, #335 air-conditioning to escape desert heat, #336 quiet moments in the morning, #337 children laughing, #338 public libraries, #339 good co-workers, #340 visiting with a long lost friend who I hadn't seen in 25 years!
holy experience

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Encouragement from Paul

Painting by Richard Serrin
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Col. 3:1-4

I can see Paul with his parchments in this cold, dank prison cell. Praying for his church. Praying for us all. This gives me encouragement today, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses" people we may not even be aware of....praying for us, for the race, and at last the finish line....."let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

May you be surrounded by the peace of Jesus today....

To see more of the artwork of Richard Serrin go here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Unexpected Grace

Every now and then we hear of an individual who has the opportunity to display a wonderful moment of grace to another individual. It happened on Wednesday night when first base umpire Jim Joyce made an incorrect call that would have meant a "perfect game" for pitcher Armando Galarraga. I had to write about this because in the sea of "graceless" moments we see in our world today via the media, TV and movies, we need to reward those in the limelight who respond with grace.

After the bad call was made, Galarraga looked stunned and the crowd went silent. He quietly went back to work as the crowd started to boo. He later says this about the incident. "I say many times: Nobody's perfect, everybody makes a mistake. I'm sure he didn't want to make that call.....he feels really bad. The other umpires shower, eat, He was sitting in the seat and saying, 'I'm so sorry.'"

Veteran Umpire Jim Joyce said of the hostile crowd, "I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," Joyce said, "I would've said it myself if I had been Galaragga.....and he never said a word to me."

The following day before the game, Galaragga and Joyce met at the pitcher's mound. Joyce was visibly emotional and couldn't hold back tears as he greeted Galaragga. It's too bad the crowd didn't display the same amount of grace as Galaragga did, for when they announced Jim Joyce's name some boos were heard.

How many opportunities are there in life for us to be people of grace. How rare it is to find someone who reacts this way, so rare that we sit up and take notice!

Jesus is the ultimate Grace-giver. So many times people were surprised, bowled over by His grace. They expected judgement and harshness, as they got from the other religious leaders of the day. But Jesus gave love and grace instead. He still dealt with the sin, but always he accepted and loved the person.

Lord, help me be more of a grace-giver, an open door lit from within by Your grace. In Your Precious Name, Amen.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" Ephesians 2:8

Also, we remember Phoenix radio personality Bill Austin today who passed away on June 2nd of cancer. He made us laugh every morning on 99.9 KEZ radio. He is already greatly missed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Open to wonder....

"We get so preoccupied with ourselves, the words we speak, the plans and projects we conceive that we become immune to the glory of creation. We barely notice the cloud passing over the moon or the dewdrops clinging to the rose leaves. The ice on the pond comes and goes. the wild blackberries ripen and wither. The blackbird nests outside our bedroom window. We don’t see her. We avoid the cold and the heat. We refrigerate ourselves in the summer and entomb ourselves in plastic in winter. We rake up ever leaf as fast as it falls. We are so accustomed to buying prepackaged meats and fish that we never think and blink about the bounty of God’s creation. We grow complacent and lead practical lives. We miss the experience of awe, reverence, and wonder." Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel

Lord, may I never lose my sense of wonder in the midst of this fast-paced world of endless information, knowledge gathering, and few real answers. All the answers mean nothing unless they point the way to You. The answer to the question is always, You.

"....always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." 2 Timothy 3:7

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Elohim our creator

More highlights of the last two weeks....
Yosemite Falls, 2,425 feet 5th tallest in the world. I hiked this when I was younger. Most memorable moment of hike was when the hat that I had just bought blew off and my heroic Dad was about to reach under the guard-rail and get it, when God stepped in and blew it down the falls!
Psalm 24:1‑2
The earth is the LORD's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

Half Dome, my old friend. Hiked to the top when I was 14, 16 miles round trip, with an elevation gain/loss of 5,131 feet, elevation at the top is over 8,000 feet. The last part is reached only by steel cables....believe me, you need both hands!
Psalm 104: 24,30
How many are your works, O Lord, In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.... When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

Houses bordering Yosemite meadow. Many years we have walked by these little houses facing the most beautiful view in the world and thought, who could be blessed enough to live here? This year we were treated to this particular flowering tree we have not yet been able to identify.....
Psalm 96: 12
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.

The mighty Merced River, view from our balcony at Yosemite View Lodge. My folks and my brother generously treated us all to the 2 bedroom suite, what a wonderful gift! The first night, I thought the furnace was running so I got up to check, but it was the noise of the river, even with windows closed you could hear it!
Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities‑his eternal power and divine nature‑have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Yosemite is one of those places that is grafted into my soul, having spent so much time there growing up. I encourage you to go if you haven't is one of those places that you really must see for yourself. To hear the Stellar's jay call, the sigh of the pines, their tops bending to the wind, the echo of tent pegs being pounded in as camp is set up, all against the backdrop of those wondrous vertical granite cliffs rising straight up off the valley floor....An experience like no other. Thank you for coming along on my journey!